- James Quintong, Fantasy
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So, while waiting for the weekend afternoon baseball games to start up, I did get caught up in 53-year-old Greg Norman's spirited run at the British Open. While he eventually fell short of winning the title, it did get me thinking about other veteran guys who can still contribute to fantasy teams down the stretch who weren't necessarily counted upon heading into the season.
Sure most fantasy owners gush over the prospects, rookie and young stars who can help out for years (especially in keeper leagues), but sometimes you can rely on the consistency of a veteran guy, even those in their 40s, a lot more to keep your stats stable.
Unfortunately, a lot of the star 40-somethings have spent much more time on the disabled list as opposed to your fantasy roster. Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, Moises Alou, Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine are among those who have discovered that age and injuries don't seem to mix that well.
Still, there are some 40-somethings, as well as guys in their late 30s who we thought were done or on their last legs, who have been nice surprises to fantasy owners this season. Let's look at some of the surprising geriatric set who still have fantasy value the rest of the way.
Jamie Moyer, P, Phillies: With Moyer going strong at 45, I can't help but think of the famous "This Is SportsCenter" commercial where the teenage anchor snaps, "Jimmy Key, what is he, 45? I can hit him." Well, Moyer is indeed 45, but he's putting together one of his best seasons in recent memory. His 3.90 ERA is his lowest since putting up a 3.27 mark for Seattle during his 21-win season in 2003. Moyer's K/9 rate will never wow anyone, but he still gets enough to be passable, and he continues to get his wins with a solid Phillies lineup in front of him (run support of 6.15, in the top 10 in the majors among those with at least 80 innings pitched). Moyer is indeed hittable (as his WHIP can attest), but if you can find the right matchup he's worth using. He probably could be owned in more than his current 4 percent of ESPN leagues. Moyer is at least an option in NL-only leagues.
Tim Wakefield, P, Red Sox: It seems hard to believe he's the same age as Schilling (41), but unlike his teammate, Wakefield probably could pitch into his 50s if he really wanted to with that knuckleball. The win total isn't anything to write home about (and he's probably not going to match the 17 wins from a year ago), but the ERA and WHIP are very useful. Even more impressive is that .230 batting average against (BAA), plus his K/9 rate is at its highest since 2005. He doesn't seem like the guy to have far fewer hits than innings pitched, that's for sure. However, he has given up 18 homers, which ranks him in the top 10 in the majors. Wakefield is owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues, but he's definitely a popular guy for streaming purposes, which is still very useful.
Carlos Delgado, 1B, Mets: He's the exception, rather than the rule here, since he's just 36, but he's got the gray beard going at times, so he counts. Delgado got off to a miserable start to begin the season (.204 in April), but he's heated up in recent weeks, hitting .419 in July. Last season, he hit .285 after the break, recovering from a .242 mark before. It looks like more of the same this season, and hopefully a few more homers as well.
Doug Brocail, P, Astros: The 41-year-old set-up man has done a solid job pitching in front of Jose Valverde. While Brocail has made a name for himself in middle relief, he's close to breaking his career high in holds (23). Brocail had consecutive shaky outings before the All-Star break, but he's still a good bet for holds for those leagues that count the category. If anything happens to Valverde, Brocail would be the first guy to get saves.
Todd Jones, P, Tigers: My colleague Eric Karabell likes singing the 40-year-old Jones' praises if you're just chasing saves and not concerned about the other peripherals. With 18 saves and four wins, Jones is doing the job there. Otherwise, the numbers look pretty nasty: 15 walks compared to 13 strikeouts, an ERA of 4.78 and a WHIP of 1.57. Surprisingly, though, Jones beats out fellow 40-something closer Trevor Hoffman in the wins, saves and ERA departments (although the WHIP difference is pretty big), and you know Hoffman went much higher on draft day. Jones gets saves the ugly way, but he's still got the job, and he's probably not ceding it to Joel Zumaya just yet.
Meanwhile, are these 40-somethings showing their age? Is the clock running out on these guys?
Frank Thomas, DH, Athletics: No, he's not coming anywhere close to matching last season's stats, but the 40-year-old Big Hurt was swinging a decent bat for Oakland (.319, four homers, 16 RBIs in 91 at-bats) before going down with a quad injury at the end of May. Thomas appears closer to returning, potentially by the end of the month, and could be a cheap source of offense down the stretch, especially considering he's owned in 11.7 percent of ESPN leagues. The A's could use the bat, and probably so could your fantasy team.
Randy Johnson, P, Diamondbacks: From the 40-year-old Big Hurt to the 44-year-old Big Unit. While Johnson has stayed relatively healthy this season, he has been a major disappointment, thanks to an ERA over 5.00 and a WHIP over 1.40, the highest it's been since he was walking 100-plus batters a year in the early '90s for the Mariners. Johnson isn't walking anyone, but is instead giving up hits by the bushel. The .282 BAA is by far the highest of his career, and he's never had a season in which he's allowed more hits than innings pitched, which is the case right now. He's still striking out about a batter an inning, so there's still value there, but I'd be watching his matchups closely before putting him in the lineup. While there's always hope for another big game, Johnson looks to be limping toward his 300th win.
Trevor Hoffman, P, Padres: As mentioned above, the 40-year-old Hoffman has fewer saves and wins, and a higher ERA than Todd Jones. The Padres aren't winning many games, so there seems to be little chance that Hoffman will get enough chances to continue his streak of consecutive 40-save seasons. Plus, he's already given up seven homers, the most since he allowed 10 back in 2003. On the other hand, Hoffman has just six walks all season and he's striking out more than a batter an inning for the first time since 2003. There's still a brand name attached to Hoffman, but for how much longer?
Jeff Kent, 2B, Dodgers: Kent has stayed relatively healthy as he's turned 40 this year, but that hasn't necessarily translated into increased production. At this point, you can't expect much more than 20 homers from Kent, and with 10 so far, he's going to need a nice run to get even that far. More disconcerting is his low batting average, thanks to a lackluster showing this month (.209). His ownership in ESPN leagues has dropped to just over 50 percent, and who knows how much lower it can go.
Matt Stairs, DH/OF, Blue Jays: While he's been around the majors for a while, it is a bit surprising that Stairs turned 40 this year. The veteran hitter has been pretty much in a tailspin after hitting .315 in April. The nine total homers are passable, especially for AL leagues, but he's gone yard just once in July and is down to a .138 average this month as well. This is coming off a .230 May and .238 June. Just giving notice that outside of AL-only or deep mixed leagues, this old guy isn't worth having.
James Quintong is an editor for ESPN Fantasy.
James Quintong takes a look at which veteran players are still worth owning the rest of the way, as well as some who aren't.